Tracking long-term effects of psychedelic drugs
When used effectively, hallucinogens can bring on altered states of consciousness that constitute immense therapeutic value. To reduce risk and ensure healing psychedelic sessions, users should exercise moderation, track their usage patterns, and monitor long-term effects. For this purpose, it is recommended that any psychedelic user keep a log of their psychedelic sessions, dosages, and experiences. This can be elaborated with journal entries, diagrams, and illustrations.
When self-medicating with psychedelics on a regular basis, it is not uncommon for the patient to find themselves managing significant emotional and psychological changes. This is sometimes accompanied by a double bind in which the psychedelic experience feels healing, but is overshadowed by an intensification of symptoms or life changes over an extended period. In these cases it is important for the user to stop, step back, and take notes of any impact psychedelics are having on various aspects of life:
- Emotional well-being: Prioritize your journey towards joyful contentment. Remaining open to new experience, patience, a sense of belonging, kindness toward others, and loving acceptance of oneself.
- Social relationships: Be vigilant of any changes to relationships with family and longstanding friends. Associate with people who have your best interest in mind, and be wary of strangers that encourage irresponsible behavior. Befriend people who make you feel safe and offer to provide mutual support.
- Responsibilities: Keep track of changes to your attendance or performance at work and school. Be sure you are able to support yourself and those dependent on you. Aim to earn a life that is creatively, emotionally, and socially fulfilling.
- Neurological health: Strive to feel safe, secure, and comfortable. Note if you begin to experience scrambled thoughts, obsessive dwelling, increased dissociation, heightened startle response, hallucinations, or other persistent alterations to cognition. These may be signs that you could benefit from psychedelic integration therapy and complementary therapeutic practices, and are often signs to slow down drug intake.
- Physical health: Note changes to appetite, energy levels, and general well-being. Note muscle spasms, tightness, gastrointestinal upset, and other symptoms which can be invoked by regular drug use. Maintain a nutritious diet, do routine exercise or physical therapy, monitor changes to health, and care for one’s body as a vehicle for well-being.
- Maslow, Abraham Harold. “A theory of human motivation.” Psychological review 50.4 (1943): 370.
- Reutter, K. (2019). The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for PTSD: Practical Exercises for Overcoming Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. New Harbinger Publications. pp 34-6.